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Douglas County

K-State Research and Extension Douglas County 
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Lawrence KS 66046

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Advanced Topics Training Enrich Master Food Volunteers

by: Susan Farley, 
County Extension Agent, 
Family and Consumer Sciences 

As Extension Master Food Volunteers, leaders are continually gaining advanced training through an array of topics with guest speakers sharing their expertise, including The Art of Making Pastry Dough, Med Instead of Meds, and For Drying Out Loud – Food Preservation.

Most recently, Blue Zones®: Lessons Learned from the World’s Longest Lived People was featured. Presenter Sharolyn Jackson, Northeast Area Family and Consumer Science Specialist with KSRE, discussed the common lifestyle traits of people who live measurably longer and healthier lives.

Blue Zones® were founded by Dan Buettner, a National Geographic Fellow and multiple New York Times bestselling author. Building on the demographic work done by Gianni Pes and Michel Poulain, Buettner was able to pinpoint longevity hotspots around the world, reflecting the lifestyle and environment of the world’s longest-lived people. These five blue zones include:

"Eat your vegetables, have a positive outlook, be kind to people, and smile."  Dan Buettner, The Blue Zones: 9 Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who've Lived the Longest

  • Okinawa, Japan - where females over 70 are the longest-lived population in the world.
  • Loma Linda, California - Seventh Day Adventists view health as central to their faith.
  • Ikaria, Greece - where residents have half the rate of heart disease as Americans and almost no dementia.
  • Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica - where elders have a strong reason to live, a positive outlook, and keep active.
  • Sardinia, Italy - is home to the world’s longest living men. They follow a very traditional healthy lifestyle.

Here is a summary of the Power 9® evidence-based commonalities of people living in the Blue Zones®:

Down Shift: Theyimprove overall wellness by finding a stress relieving strategy that works for them. Some strategies they practice include walking, mindfulness, gardening, yoga, and getting adequate rest.

Purpose: Research shows that people who “know their why” can live, on average, up to seven good years longer. People with a sense of purpose understand what brings them happiness and immerse themselves in a rewarding and fulfilling environment.

Plant Slant:  They follow more of a Mediterranean style of eating by putting less meat and more plants on their plates. They rely on a variety of fruits/vegetables, beans and legumes, nuts, olive oil, fewer sweets – little added sugars.

Wine At 5: Wine in moderation has been shown to be beneficial if consumed as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle. Resveratrol, found in the skin of grapes, is known to protect the body against damage that puts it at higher risk for cancer, heart disease, and dementia.

Family First: Putting family and loved ones first is one of the things that adds to their longevity. They keep aging parents and grandparents nearby, invest in their children with time and love, and share meals together.

80% Rule: People in Okinawa say “Hara Hachi Bu” before meals to remind them to stop eating when their stomachs are 80% full. Eating mindfully helps them maintain a healthy weight.

Move Naturally:  They live in an environment that continuously nudges them to move naturally throughout the day. They don’t have the mechanical conveniences that we have. They grow and prepare their own food and experience little screen time.

Right Tribe: They surround themselves with people who support positive behaviors. Cultivating close friends and strong social networks is a key component to successful aging. 

Belong: All but five of the 263 centenarians interviewed belonged to some faith-based community.  Denomination doesn’t seem to matter. Studies show that maintaining a sense of belonging and connection to a community or faith-based group can add 4 to 14 years to your life.